John Axford learned from Cardinal coaches that he was tipping his pitches

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Indians reliever John Axford was a Cardinal for less than two months, including the post-season, at the end of 2013, but it was invaluable. Per John Lott of the National Post, Axford learned from his Cardinal coaches that he had been tipping his pitches.

On John Axford’s first day with the St. Louis Cardinals, his new coaches sat him down for a meeting. We’ve been scouting you for five years, they said. And by the way, you might be interested in one thing we know about you: You’re tipping your pitches.

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His fortunes turned when the Cardinals acquired him last Aug. 30. After he made “one little adjustment” in his delivery, batters no longer knew what to expect. Axford posted a 1.74 ERA in 13 games for St. Louis and topped it off with a 1.59 mark in six post-season games, including two scoreless outings against Boston in the World Series.

The Cardinals could have kept Axford around, but the right-hander was projected to make between $5-6 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Instead, the Cardinals non-tendered him in early December. Two weeks later, the Indians signed him to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, effectively replacing Chris Perez as the closer.

Axford credits his short stint in St. Louis for rediscovering success, saying, “I don’t think I would be in the position I’m in right now with the Cleveland Indians if I wasn’t traded [from Milwaukee].”

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.